Hosted by Nancy Grace
This is a new TV series on local channels, so you will have to check the local listings HERE.
This a truly unique new type of true crime series that takes viewers along the investigations that once curtailed by the lack of technology or evidence at the time, have come to have new light shining upon them as new advances in the DNA technology field have made giant strides in the last few years.
The series focuses on crimes being solved by searching familial DNA matches and pursuing those matches in order to find their suspect and make an arrest. This is done by using the YSTR chromosomal part of the DNA makeup. Then this is used to determined familial matches. In turn this can be a very useful investigative tool for Detectives, similar in the way a polygraph is used to point them in the right direction in a case. Except, this is evidence. This familial match can be used in court. Polygraphs are generally not accepted in State courts as evidence. However, in federal courts, they have been accepted in certain cases.
This idea of familial DNA searching for suspects has a bit of controversy surrounding it, as some people think it is a violation of privacy. But, seriously, how much privacy do you really expect to have when you swab your mouth or spit in a tube and mail it off to complete strangers to test and process? You don’t know who these people are and as it turns out, these privately owned companies are not bound by the same laws as the police and courts so they CAN opt to use that DNA you send in in any fashion they see fit, as long as you sign your paperwork and they cover their butts with their lawyers behind them.
Just so happens the biggest and first case that most people know about this kind of DNA searching and matching is the case of The Golden State Killer who was recently apprehended after a thirteen-year terror spree and living under the radar for over thirty years. The case was at a standstill as so many murders and rapes end up and the suggestion was made that because they had the suspect’s DNA, why not upload it into one of those family tree DNA websites and see if they could find any matches. This eventually led to his capture and on April 24, 2018 Joseph D’Angelo was charged with the numerous horrific crimes he had committed over the years.
This sparked a new thought in forensics and a new avenue for searching for suspects was developed, studied, tested and adopted.
Part of this technology also involves phenotyping which is information inside DNA that can tell us general physical traits about a particular individual such as eye color, hair color, approximate height, facial shape and many other characteristics that then allow forensic artists to sketch out a composite for the investigators to start showing around and broadcasting.
This series is a phenomenal series. Not only do the professionals that participate have true faith in this process but many of them have gotten emotionally invested in the cases that brought them to this new technology.
The series walks the viewer through the case from start to finish, including in depth interviews with the very Detectives that worked the cases themselves. This is complete with reenactments and dramatizations to show the progression of the case and to give the victims and their families a tangible existence rather than just be names in a case file.
My only complaint was that during one of the reenactments, one of the Detectives is explaining that many times during an attack the victim will scratch and claw at the attacker and this will often leave skin cells and DNA under the victim’s fingernails. He explains that to preserve that evidence during transportation of the body to the Medical Examiner’s office they will bag the hands and secure the bags with rubber bands. This is very true. However, in the reenactment the show the techs using plastic bags around the victim’s hands. As far as I know, plastic seals in all kinds of things, including air, and can cause biological evidence to begin to deteriorate. I was under the impression in real life paper bags are used to let any gases, moisture, etc. escape as NOT to compromise the potential biological evidence on the victim’s hands.
Other than that, I thought this was a wonderful series and actually very informative. I am definitely going to be watching the rest of the 12-episode series. I think this is one of the most unique true crime shows I have seen in years because it deals with new science and how it is actively being used in our justice system today.
Season 2 Episode 11
Originally aired January 19, 2007
Directed by Stuart Gordon, Stuart Ortiz
Written by Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli
Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat
Jeffrey Combs, Patrick Gallagher, Christopher Heyerdahl, Eric Keenleyside, Ken Kramer, Elyse Levesque, Ian Alexander Martin, Aron Tager
One of the best things about the Masters of Horror series is that you don’t usually have to wait long for something demented, disturbing and gory to happen. In this episode, yet again, only an hour long, they manage to make a very brutal and graphic experience for the viewer.
Poe is a married writer. He lives a modest but happy life with his wife, Sissie, along with their lovely pet bird, a goldfish and a black cat named Pluto…until Sissie falls ill with The White Plague.
Having a loved one with a terminal illness, especially back when medicine was in its infancy, was a terrible strain on those afflicted and those caring for them. Poor Edgar just can’t handle watching Sissie wither away and soon turns to drinking to escape his pain and reality.
The truth is, Sissie being sick isn’t the only thing tormenting our writer. He is suffering from writer’s block, a death sentence when writing is how you make a living. It gets so bad that he can’t even afford to pay the doctor to come care for his sickly wife.
Meanwhile, Poe is drowning his sorrows and his sanity in bottles of alcohol. He starts to see things he isn’t sure are really there, and there’s no one he can talk to about the madness in his life. A madness which soon takes an even darker turn when he begins to suspect that his loving wife’s cat, Pluto, is somehow plotting against him, taunting him, torturing him even.
If you want to know how gruesome and gory this episode gets, you can watch it free at the link below:
Now, I will say this was an incredible episode. I was glued to the TV the whole time and I cursed when commercials came on. Watching this film short was like a window into watching a helpless man descend into a world of despair, madness and insanity.
There are certainly points where you can feel for Poe. At the beginning. But eventually, you really only feel for the wife, the only true victim in the story. It’s not like Poe takes this cat tormenting him lying down. And if you have ever tried to TRULY outsmart a cat, you’d have found they are very sneaky and shrewd at times, especially when they are on the defensive and protecting themselves. And they are smart like dogs. I don’t care what people say. I have four cats. I have two Bengals (which is a breed produced by mating an Asian Leopard cat with an American Tabby), I have a gray tabby and an all-black Bombay cat. I also have a two-and-a-half-year-old German Shepard. And I can say this, the cats figure things out like when they are getting lured with treats to come out of a room that are not allowed in. The dog, is just happy to get treats. The cats, they know you are tricking them. They know if they come out, you’re gonna grab them up and take them from the “forbidden room”. So, they don’t come out and eat the treats. Oh sure, maybe the first few times they did, but they learned quick. My dog is one of the top five smartest breeds…and it took him three times as long to figure out he was being lured back inside at night with treats.
So, Poe and this cat, they have a tumultuous relationship and it gets increasingly vicious as time goes on. So, what happens to Sissie? What about Poe? And what about this genius tormenting cat???
Watch and find out. But I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up
Pick Me Up
Season 1 Episode 11
Originally aired Jan 20, 2006
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by David J. Schow
Fairuza Balk, Paul Anthony, Crystal Lowe, Malcolm Kennard, Warren Kole, Laurence London, Michael Moriarty
Oh, our masters of horror. The genius things they think up. Like this film. There are a lot of films out there in the horror genre that are blatant statements about not picking up hitchhikers. But this one, they really went the extra mile.
Meet Stacia (Fairuza Balk). She’s a recently divorced young women trying to get as far away from her abusive husband as she can. She is not a trusting person. She carries a pretty decent knife for self-protection, though it’s obvious it’s a legal length blade. Stacia, has decided to take the bus to get out of town. You would think this would be a reliable mode of transportation choice. But, in a horror film, maybe not so much.
The bus breaks down. All the passengers are pretty pissed because, well, they are broken down in the middle of nowhere really. I think the nearest business was something like nine miles away or something like that. Stacia decided to hoof it on foot, instead of waiting around for whatever relief for the bus that may or may not be coming. Other passengers are freaking out. You know the type, the typical spoiled and sheltered female complaining to her frustrated and annoyed beau about what a predicament they are in, how they should have done this or that, blah, blah, blah. Other passengers are seemingly not swayed by the mishap and are fairly easy going, willing to wait for another bus to come and grab all the stranded passengers, they’ll get where they want to go…eventually.
While waiting, a trucker in an eighteen-wheeler pulls up and over, checkin’ to see what the haps is, ya know? Not really offering to help with the bus so much as he’s offering to help the passengers and give rides to whoever wants them.
A couple of people jump at the chance, fearing that it will be a long time before anyone comes along again or before the relief gets there. So, they hop on in. Now, that couple with the bitchy chick and the annoyed boyfriend, yeah…boyfriend wants to get in the truck. Chicky takes on look at the truck driver and says hell no, refusing to go with this stranger that’s driving a clear way out of their little hole of Hell on earth. Boyfriend tries to reason with her, but you can’t speak logically with the illogically minded, right? So, there they stay, on the side of the road, in the heat, with the bus and the bus driver and a few other passengers.
So, now we have the original group of passengers, splintered off into smaller groups, with Stacia off all by her lonesome trying to make it miles on the good ol’ Shoe Leather Express.
Here, is where we meet a young man in a duster, hitchhiking as he goes down the road. He comes up on the breakdown party and sees an opportunity.
Let me explain.
See, the truck driver is a killer that will kill whoever he picks up. The duster guy is a killer that will kill whoever gives him a ride. And apparently, they are encroaching on each other’s turf.
Now do you see the opportunity? Needless to say, between the two of them, murder happens. Lots of murder.
Stacia finally ends up at the motel she was heading for. The guy in the duster has the room next to hers. He also has a victim in his room and well, she’s not going quietly into that good night. Stacia is getting annoyed because she thinks it’s just too people getting their groove on over there and she’s not in any mood to hear the sounds of the wild sex jungle at this time.
The trucker is also at the motel.
As Stacia goes to the soda machine to get a drink, she encounters both men, the duster guy and the trucker, not knowing that they are both eyeballing her with every intention of killing her, each in their own way.
But it’s not going to be that easy. Not only are they both contending with a young woman who knows a little about how to handle herself, they also have to contend with each other. Who is going to get Stacia? Which one of these psychos gets to kill her?
From this point on it’s a battle of wits and wills. Stacia vs these two killers and the trucker vs the hitchhiker in the duster.
Who wins? Watch and find out at the link below.
I’ve looked at other reviews of this episode. Most average around 6-7 out 10 on score, while one website gave it a 2/5. They constantly complain about the plot lacking bulk, that it’s slow moving and that the acting, while good, isn’t enough to carry the film. There are complaints about the film being somewhat of a black comedy and yet not being able to really pull it off. And there are complaints about the ending. All praised Fairuza Balk for her performance.
Now, for my opinion. I was shocked to see that so many people were unhappy with this episode. Maybe I’m just new to the series and haven’t seen all of what it has to offer. I am watching them out of order so, it’s not like I’m seeing them as they played when they first aired. Still, I thought this was a fun episode. I liked the ending. I actually can’t believe one of the reviews I read said the ending “fell flat on its face”. I cannot agree with that statement. That sounds like something one who doesn’t watch horror films would say.
I have discussed many times that we often find that people expect the same A-List product from horror as they do from say a drama or a romantic comedy. These are not the same kind of films, they require different formulas to work and therefore, the finished product will have different qualities. Why is it that it is perfectly acceptable to make a comedy that is meant to be bad and people love it, but if you make a horror film with the same intentions it is looked at as a failure? Not that I’m saying this film is one of those types…it’s just a question.
Anyways, even though there were a number of disapproving folks about this particular episode, I thought it was good. I liked the witty banter and power play between the two serial killers. I also like Fairuza Balk’s character, Stacia. But I seem to really disagree when these horror critics say the ending fell flat. I didn’t feel that way at all. I’d even watch it again.
Dance of the Dead
Season 1 Episode 03
Originally aired November 11, 2005
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Story by Richard Matheson
Teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson
Jessica Lowndes, Marilyn Norry, Jonathan Tucker, Ryan McDonald, Lucie Guest, Robert Englund
Have you ever wondered what life would be like after an apocalypse? I’m not talking about zombies taking over the world or the earth imploding on itself. I’m talking about the fundamentals of our human existence being forever altered and the survivors on the planet having to adapt.
For instance: Let’s say, well take this COVID-19 pandemic. If you look at the maps of the spread of the infection, it is clear that the coasts are much more largely affected than say, the Midwest. Now, that’s not saying the virus isn’t here, it’s just not as prevalent.
So, imagine something similar happens. Something that wipes out both coastal lines of the nation, something that snuffs out millions of lives in a matter of seconds. Call it whatever you want, an asteroid, a meteor, an alien aircraft, whatever smashes into the planet, there’s hundreds of scenarios. Pick one.
After it’s all said and done, naturally there are parts of the world that are considered destroyed and uninhabitable, parts that are considered home for what society would more than likely deem “the undesirables” and then there would be parts that would be reminiscent of the world we once knew, just a little different.
So, now we must consider how people would instinctively react to such a catastrophic event. Naturally, we would like to think that we would all be joining together around a giant campfire singing Kum ba yah willing the reconstruction of the world and mankind with our love for each other and whatever heavenly and godly spirits we still had faith in.
But, alas, this is not the case. As we have seen, not just portrayed on the screen in numerous Hollywood films, but right now in our very lives, people will only be out for themselves and those they love in times of complete and total crisis and anarchy.
This brings me to the core of our one-hour film flick today.
In this story, a woman and her daughter are trying their best to make it in their little corner of the world after the effects of WWIII and a biochemical weapon known as “Blizz” has been unleashed upon the world using weather patterns.
Initially, as it falls from the sky on little Peggy’s seventh birthday party it burns anything living that it touches. Her mother, Kate, grabs her and her older sister Anna and runs into their house and locks the doors, leaving everyone outside in the backyard birthday party to die or suffer incredible injury.
Fast forward ten years, it’s now just Kate and her daughter Peggy, Anna is gone. Kate and Peggy run a little diner in the aftermath of the third world war and are doing their best to live a “normal” life.
Enter Jak and his friends. Jak is a rough delinquent type kid, scruffy, pale, looks like he does his fair share of drugs (and maybe yours too), definitely from that area I described that would be for the undesirables after an apocalypse. His area is called “Muskeet”. And Kate tells her daughter, warning her in fact, everything everyone does in or from Muskeet is a trick. Talk about one distrustful, maladjusted human being, right? Everyone there is bad??? Everyone???? Yeah. Okay. (I find that hard to believe, but moving on…)
Jak is with another guy, who is the poster boy for lewd and crude, and two chicks, neither of which can keep their hands off of the guys and seem to want to have sex right there in the booth at the diner. Classy, huh? They are all dressed in what Gen Xers would call ‘punk’ style and the chicks have gone above and beyond the call of duty when asked to look trashy, easy and slutty. I don’t know what it’s called now…mainstream??? The guys are wearing rough, dirty clothes, jeans and t-shirts that both have holes and rips all over them, lots of tattoos, motorcycle boots, you know the look, typical bad boy that let’s say, doesn’t look showered and clean too often. The girls look like little punk rockers with their ratted and braided hair, different rainbow color streaks, dark lipstick, tons of jewelry (mostly silver and black leather), wearing stuff that has silver studs or spikes, that kind of thing. Perhaps way too much eye makeup and not enough self-esteem.
However, at the diner, Jak immediately has eyes for Peggy and ends up enticing her with an invitation that he’ll be around her area later that night after dark and if she wants to see what she’s been missing, she should meet up with him.
At first, she’s not sure about it because her mama basically says nothing good happens after dark, but eventually she does sneak out of the house to meet up with Jak at the diner. And she’s dressed as provocatively as she can with the conservative wardrobe she owns. She even borrows an item or two from her troubled sister’s things left at the house.
Peggy ends up getting in a car with Jak and his buddy and the buddy’s date from the diner. All four of them tear off down the street, Jak’s friends in the front seat and Jak and Peggy in the back, and head toward Muskeet.
Now the drive to Muskeet is eventful…and strange. I will say that. However, once they get to Muskeet…that’s when things turn REALLY strange. But, Jak promises Peggy that he won’t let anything happen to her…except what she wants (I almost threw up in my mouth a little at the corniness of this “romantic” exchange between them, insert eye roll here, such a line, anyways…).
They end up going to a club that is the equivalent to a giant “gentle” mosh pit fitted with chain link fences and cages, screaming chicks on drugs, people all over each other and our one and only, Robert Englund at the helm. He is the club owner and announcer for the shows that take place there. Now, before I tell you what KIND of shows, I want to tell you about our friend that plays our beloved Freddy Krueger.
In this film, Robert Englund in the owner of a club called The Doom Room (nice huh? Doesn’t that just sound like a lovely quiet romantic place for a first date? Insert raised eyebrow here and moving on…).
Anyways, I’m not sure what I would call the type of clientele coming to this establishment but I know exactly what to call the entertainment…reanimated corpses. How are they reanimated; you ask? Now what would be the fun in telling you all those details. What I WILL tell you is that the shows at the club range from the house band to these reanimated corpses dancing around the stage.
But, back to Robert Englund. Here we see him with no Freddy makeup, no razor glove and yet he still sparks off with the same witty delivery of lines as in his claim to fame films. He is the epitome of total creeper as his magnetic and eerie voice crawl through his microphone and rain down upon the crowd as he grossly announces each performance. Not to mention he is a perfect rendition of what looks like a cracked-out magician in a Dracula cape wearing more eye liner than Bret Michaels. Decked out in all his manic glory, with his black eye liner and black fingernail polish, he toasts and taunts the audience, enticing them with the entertainment to come.
If you want to know what EXACTLY that entertainment is, you can watch the episode at the link below for free.
Now, for what I thought of this episode. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I wanted to start writing this review AS I was watching, but I literally could not pull my eyes away from the screen long enough to even write down notes. It was so strange, so out there, and held a nice degree of shock value that I was glued to the screen.
The entire episode was great. But the last half was really where the gritty stuff takes place. I loved this episode. I don’t know if that was because it was directed by the famous Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre original) or if it was because it was just that good, perhaps a combination of both. Maybe it was Robert Englund. He was definitely a ten out of ten on the creep factor in this film. Not to mention he’s disgusting and revolting, misogynistic and demented, foul and repulsive in every way.
The entire story is fantastic. It’s amazing to me how much they are able to cram into just one hour of entertainment. All of the actors pull of their roles well. The special effects and special effects makeup are good. It is truly a very well rounded, excellent short film.
THIS is definitely one of the episodes worth watching.
Season 1 Episode 08
Originally aired December 16, 2005
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Drew McWeeny, Scott Swan
Starring: Udo Kier, Christopher Redman, Norman Reidus, Gwyneth Walsh
This was a Masters of Horror episode I was excited to watch because it’s directed by a true master of horror, John Carpenter.
In this episode, a rare films dealer named Kirby Sweetman is living the life of a desperate man swimming in an ocean of debt without so much as a life preserver. He owes $200,000 or else he’s going to lose his little noire theater, the last love of his life. He’s already lost his wife to a drug overdose so; this theater is his heart and soul and the only thing he really has left…of himself or his wife.
But, his reputation for his talent of procuring rare and obscure original films precedes him and he soon gets contacted by a Mr. Bellinger, a man who is not only a videophile, but also so filthy rich he has more money than he knows what to do with. So, he wastes it. Like most narcissistic filthy rich people do. This guy Bellinger, wastes his money on finding rare original films that nobody outside the small circle of true videophiles has ever heard of, let alone would want to watch.
The film being requested this time is one named La Fin Absolue du Monde, a French film with a wretched reputation. The title translates into “the absolute end of the world” and in this “film” horrible and hideous things happen, atrocities such as the sacrifice of an actual angel, including the vicious and violently gruesome removal of the angel’s wings.
There are rumors surrounding the existence of this film, as it hasn’t been seen since its first initial viewing. At that time, the audience in the theater supposedly went insane, erupting in violence and madness, leaving one lone survivor and that was only because he was the one in the film booth and he turned away as it was being watched. The horror involved with this film is what makes it so desirable and so rare.
Sweetman and Bellinger negotiate a price, one that will save Kirby’s theater AND allow him to view the film, if he so chooses. Still, during the search for this film, all of the people Kirby comes into contact with warn him to walk away and even if he doesn’t, to never watch the film. Of course, this only intrigues him more as he continues his search for this one and only original print, a search that ends up taking him in many directions.
Yup, that’s right. That’s all I’m going to tell you. Hahaha!
BUT, if you want to watch it, you can view it at the link below for free.
Now, I know this is Carpenter we are talking about here. And for the most part it was good. The only thing was I was expecting a little more I guess BECAUSE it WAS Carpenter. I also read a book not too long ago that was very similar in plot. It was Hot Splices, you can find the review HERE. There was a lot more violence in that book than in this movie so, that might also be why I expected more.
However, this was still a very nice way to take up an hour if you are looking for something horror based and short. I don’t think this would disappoint anyone and I think the true Carpenter fans will see his genius in this short film. I can definitely see why it’s part of this Masters of Horror series. And where I think you will see the most of what we know to be John Carpenter-esque, will be the second half of the show. So, do enjoy and thanks for reading!
Fair Haired Child
Season 1 Episode 09
Originally aired January 6, 2006
Directed by William Malone
Written by Matt Greenberg
Starring: Lori Petty, Walter Phelan, Lindsay Pulsipher, William Samples
In this story, a young blonde teenage girl is kidnapped after an older gentleman knocks her down while she is on her way home from school. He renders her unconscious and puts her in his stereotypical white panel child molester van and takes her home.
When she wakes, she makes a quick attempt at an escape but is quickly subdued and tossed down a flight of stairs into the basement. There she immediately finds a young man about her age hanging from the ceiling by a crudely fashioned noose. As she screams for help in panicked fear, she struggles to help the boy free and lower him down. She is able to do so just in time to save his life.
It is at this point when he tries to thank her that she realizes he can’t speak. He draws in the dust on the floor to communicate with her. She soon finds out a few things.
She finds out that the man who took her has a wife. She also realizes that they are this young man’s parents. What’s confusing her is why they would be keeping him in the basement too. Every once in a while, she can hear the parents talking upstairs, but can’t fully make out what they are sayin.
Later, she finds out that the parents have very specific plans for her. These plans involve replacing the son they lost. Or, bringing him back to life actually. Apparently, this involves multiple sacrifices, this young blonde girl being the last. These sacrifices are being made to what I can only assume is some sort of demonic spirit. I doubt an angelic one would require human sacrifice for anything, nor do I think an angel would guarantee to bring back the dead.
Now, that’s all I’m going to tell you. You would think that because this is only an hour-long show that I would have basically already covered it all. But there is so much more. So, you definitely need to find this and watch it.
Here is a link that should let you watch the whole episode for free:
This was the first Masters of Horror episode I watched. I have to say, I was very impressed. Just as I love short horror stories, short horror films are fun too. They don’t take up a lot of time, they get right into the good stuff and if it happens to not really be your thing, it doesn’t last forever.
This one, however, was good. I will say that the chick who plays the mother, she was the same chick that plays Keanu Reeves girlfriend in Point Break. You know, the bug-eyed chick with the short spikey hair. Yeah. I don’t really dig her much, but her oddness was perfect for this film and her role.
I like how everything was written, how it all played out and came together. I wasn’t left with questions or disappointments. I was left with a feeling of total satisfaction and a feeling of approval to go ahead and watch more of the episodes I have on my DVR. I thought the acting was pretty solid and overall was a very good short horror film.
I think this series was am excellent idea. I think it was a great way to give horror directors and writers another way to highlight their talents without taking up so much time and money and yet, still being able to produce a worthy product for horror fans of all kinds. I truly appreciate the genius behind not only the short story writing but the filming as well. And I highly recommend this episode to get you started.
***NOTE*** Preview images were ridiculously hard to find for this episode. I do apologize for the lack of images. The trailer is still available though. Thank you for reading.